My Views on the View
Let me start with how I first came to UC Santa Cruz.
In 1967, I was a high school student trying to figure out where to go to college. After first reading the course catalogue cover to cover (it was shorter then), my best friend and his father and I drove up from San Diego to check out the campus. My friend and I drove up that long curving drive at sunset. We stopped at a pull-out with a panoramic view of Monterey Bay, got out of the car, and literally jumped for joy and hollered and screamed and hugged each other and then jumped some more. We had found the Promised Land. They called it the City On A Hill.
When we toured the colleges, we looked out over the long sweep of meadow and that same awe-inspiring vista.
I knew right then where I was going to college. It was an instant decision that has served me well in every aspect of my life. (And it well served my friend’s and my children, who earned a B.A. and Ph.D. at UC Santa Cruz.)
How many tens of thousands of other prospective students have had exactly the same reaction?
First impressions matter. A lot. Here at UC Santa Cruz we are in competition with every other institution of higher learning for the best faculty, the most professional staff, the most motivated students, the most willing donors, and for the support of the larger community. We need all those people to hold a positive view of UC Santa Cruz, to carry in their minds a favorable image or memory of our campus. When they first arrive on campus they should see something that instantly brings back those positive associations and makes a welcoming statement about our best values and aspirations.
Thomas Church, the renowned landscape architect who originally set the design principles for our campus, said it succinctly: “The major decision with regard to the siting [is] that the great meadow to the south of the campus should not be built upon, that the first buildings encountered in entering the site would be at the crest of the hill where the trees begin…”
Those views that I first experienced are not just an amenity, not just what the architects call a viewshed, not just a pretty picture, they are emblematic of UC Santa Cruz. They are what Harvard Yard is to Harvard, what Sproul Plaza and the Campanile are to Berkeley, what Kings College Chapel is to Cambridge, what the Quad is to Stanford. Most colleges and universities have nothing that can match those emblems. We do.
Corporations would call it a brand, and assign a lot of asset value to it, and spend a lot of money to build it up and to defend it. We already have it. We got it the old-fashioned way: we inherited it.
I call it the WOW! factor. Never underestimate it. It may be hard to put an exact dollar value on it, but views of the meadow and views from the meadow are the WOW! factor and are extraordinarily valuable to UC Santa Cruz.
Chancellor Blumenthal has referred to our campus, meaning our landscape, as “iconic”, and he is absolutely right. When you come through the entrance to the University and see those open, sweeping vistas up to the City On A Hill, when you look out from Cowell College or University House or any of many other places on campus, across those broad meadows, out to Monterey Bay and the mountains beyond, you are looking at what makes our campus iconic. You are looking at an image that will stay in the mind of anyone who sees it, and will draw them into—and back to—the wider circle that is the UC Santa Cruz community.
-- Jozseph Schultz
(aka India Joze)